Many reports of the president’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget proposal have focused on proposed tax increases and ending sequestration, but the president also proposed using deficit reductions from enactment of comprehensive immigration reform legislation as a means to fiscally balance many of his proposals.
The White House’s budget fact sheet asserts the 2013 Senate-passed immigration bill would generate “up to $1 trillion in deficit reduction” over two decades. BPC’s own fiscal analysis of the outcome of comprehensive immigration reform showed $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 20 years. In the short term, the president’s budget proposes nearly $160 billion in savings in the budget over its 10-year horizon from passage of immigration reform legislation, based on the Congressional Budget Office’s projections.1
This isn’t new. The president proposed the same budget savings from immigration reform in his FY 2015 budget proposal, which be presented several months after the Senate had passed its bill and while the House was still contemplating next steps. However, the Senate immigration bill died with the 113th Congress. Today legislation akin to the Senate-passed bill does not seem likely in the near future, given the strong Republican opposition to the president’s executive orders on immigration last November, which is currently impacting the last remaining funding bill for FY2015, for the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, now that Republicans control both the House and Senate, it is more likely that separate, piece-meal bills might be considered.
However, budgets are historically places where presidents have put forward major policy proposals, and this year is no exception. Both parties, and the president, recognize that the administrative actions taken in November are not substitutes for legislation to address all of the problems of our immigration system. In the course of assembling the budget and appropriations for next year, both parties should recognize the strong benefits to the fiscal stability of the country, to growth in our GDP, to wages and to the overall economy that common-sense bipartisan immigration reform could bring. Perhaps the necessary work of funding our government could be a prompt to return to that work.
1 “CBO and JCT estimate that enacting S. 744, as passed by the Senate, would generate changes in direct spending and revenues that would decrease federal budget deficits by $158 billion over the 2014-2023 period….” (CBO Letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy dated July 3, 2013.)